Boston Avalon

[b]Mos[/b] disappointing: a promising start degenerates into soft rock and jazz noodling...

Tonight is for the real hip-hop fans and the real MCs. At least that is what our host Spontaneous keeps telling us.

[a]Talib Kweli[/a] has that down. Banging out new tracks from his forthcoming ‘Reflection Eternal’ album and confidently shouldering Black Star‘s ‘Respiration’ and ‘Brown Skin Lady’, it’s clear that Kweli is more than a guest-star. His quippy, high-minded rhymes and sharp delivery in sharp contrast to now-standard Prada-plugging glut: “If you’re rhyming for the loot, then you’re a prostitute.” Can I get a bling-bling? Nope.

The charismatic, natural mystic, beat-poet charmer, the mighty Mos Def seems a bit confused. He sashays onstage chanting, “Tight rhymes,” over the robo-funk break from ‘White Lines’, as played by his new backing band, Jack Johnson, which boasts previous members of Bad Brains, Parliament, Funkadelic, Living Colour and even the Sugarhill session band.

While Talib Kweli’s appearance for an all-too-brief Black Star reunion on ‘Definition’ and a bouncy version of ‘Hip Hop’ are top form, somewhere during the psychedelic jam version of ‘Love’ it becomes clear we’ve transitioned away from tight rhymes and hip-hop towards some sort of cosmic-slop crooning. Emphasis on the slop.

The worst is ‘Ms Fat Booty’, bloated by an overly long section that veers off into extended sections of The Pharcyde‘s ‘Passing Me By’, The Temptations‘Just My Imagination’, and Bob Marley‘s ‘Waiting In Vain’. Ten minutes in, we’ve completely lost the plot and stopped caring. What would be a stirring version of ‘Umi Says’ is ruined when Mos Def leaves us twisting with a band indulging itself in a masturbatory acid-jazz breakdown.

He recovers by showing us some of that raw soul that makes him such a talent with a stunning a cappella rhyme, but falters again by unveiling his new “heavily rock-influenced” sound for the encore. He closes the night with a new song called ‘Ghetto’ from his upcoming ‘That Black Bastard’ album. We are not even in funk territory any more. The song teeters on soft rock, and consists mainly of Mos singing the word “ghetto” as the band collapses into a heap of noodling.

Mos – we know you’re there. If you want to spend time in the Lounge, please doesn’t forget to bring your Lyrics.